I wrote a blog post several months ago about whether loving others is worth it, even when your love isn’t reciprocated. Since then, I’ve had to re-read that post countless times, because even though I concluded at the time that unconditionally loving others is the worthiest pursuit in life, I have questioned my own capacity and capability to unconditionally love those who merely receive love and never reciprocate it.
We each have an inherent and indisputable need to be loved. We simply cannot rid ourselves of that need.
Simultaneously, we are each responsible for lavishing love unto others. We are responsible for contributing to the process of quenching one another’s thirst for love.
Something I have realized about myself is that I focus solely on loving others before I adequately love myself. Recently, I have begun to recognize the internal damage that this has done to me. I’ve held myself responsible for quenching others’ thirst for love, but have neglected my own. More accurately, I have sought and waited on certain people to gift me with their love who never intended to gift it to me in the first place.
A typical response that I’ve heard as a Christian is that we don’t need anybody’s love other than God’s, because His love is the only love that is unconditional and fulfilling. And though I believe that only God’s love is truly fulfilling to the soul, I also fully believe that a prominent way of experiencing His love is through others–the people that He blesses us with.
Subsequently, I see the need to experience love from others as essential. Because even though our love may not be perfect, love is still the greatest gift we can give or receive.
The thing for me is that God’s love hasn’t been enough for me as of late, because His love hasn’t been my greatest desire. Instead, I’ve sought love from those who I love the most. I’ve sought love from those who I have given the most of my love to, and I have eagerly anticipated (and even expected) the moment(s) in which those people would reciprocate that love.
They never did.
Perhaps, they never will, and I was entirely wrong to expect them to.
This is not to say that I loved certain people only because I wanted their love in return. This is to say that I loved people and sought self-worth and acceptance in the hope of receiving their love. In return, I sat around empty handed as I continuously gave my love away to others. I became so fixated on receiving the love of specific individuals that I rarely recognized the love I was given by people other than those I had expected it from.
What I’ve come to learn from this is that the problem isn’t the fact that certain people haven’t reciprocated my love for them; the problem is that I’ve made my desire for their love the source of my worth, and I’ve looked to it as the primary fountain that could quench my soul’s thirst.
I don’t want to stop loving others, including those who do not reciprocate it. I never will.
God never said to love only those who reciprocate and love you in return. He said to love always and forever, unconditionally.
I want to stop putting my worth in the amounts, or kinds, of love that others do or do not give me. I want to stop drinking from an unquenchable fountain. I want to learn to love others unconditionally without anticipating or expecting them to do the same for me. And in all of this, I want to love others simply because we are all worthy of this unconditional love, as demonstrated to us by the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit.
Loving others is a dangerous endeavor, but it’s worth it. That’s why we continue handing out our love, despite the times it has been denied, neglected, or taken for granted.
True love always perseveres. The only time it doesn’t is when we weigh it down with our own conditions, assumptions, and expectations.
Give your love the room to establish its roots in another, and don’t let yourself become attached to the love you do or do not receive. You were already bought at a price by Love. No other love can give you more worth than the worth you have already been given.